Archive for February 2009
Last Friday, I had the pleasure of catching-up with Joe Pine, distinguished author and visiting scholar at MIT Design Lab. Joe is well known for his best selling books Mass Customization, The Experience Economy, and Authenticity. I first heard Joe riff on Authenticity at MIT in October of 2007, well before the mass media glommed onto authenticity as a theme in the most recent Presidential campaign. I have always found Joe’s insights to be fundamentally rooted in physics, economics, and philosophy, but most importantly, ahead of its time.
Joe shared his latest framework with me – The Multiverse. To define the Multiverse, Joe employs the classical 3-dimensional framework that defines the Universe – space, time, and matter. Joe then layers economic insights gleaned from the Stan Davis best seller Future Perfect onto his framework. In Future Perfect, Davis argued that increasingly, the physical mass of everything that has economic value is shrinking. As the economy becomes more informational and intangible, it is less dependent on physical matter to exist on its own. Think anti-matter. Using the same method, Joe concludes that there must exist a place where space, time, and matter do not exist – a virtual reality. The digital space.
Joe’s Multiverse framework provides clarity around the opportunities in the digital space. The digital space is infinite in possibilities, largely undiscovered, without boundaries, always on, and economically advantaged compared to reality. It’s the world of video games, alternate reality games, virtual worlds, social media, and new business models.
In my own experience, I have used the digital space to create a virtual presence of myself. Tools like Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and LinkedIn allow me to make new contacts without having to do the leg work. As a result, I have expanded my personal network by orders of magnitude and established scores of new business leads and collaborations. Think of how much time it would take to have built out a massive network via person to person interaction. Reality doesn’t scale.
There is intrinsic value in having an on-line presence, and by Pine’s estimates, it might be infinite.